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As usual, these are not my characters. They belong to J.R. Tolkien. Just having a bit of holiday fun here, no money involved.
"Deck The Halls"
“What do you suppose we’ll get this year, Merry?” Pippin asked squirming underneath the blankets and keeping Merry from falling asleep.
“If you don’t lay still, I shall get up before you do on Yule and toss all of your gifts into the Brandywine,” Merry growled. This had been going on far too long and he was losing his patience with the small hobbit.
“You will not!” Pippin sat up in the bed and glared down at Merry.
“Oh, yes I will,” Merry said. “Now, go to sleep, Pip.” Merry wrapped himself in the covers and burrowed down below them in an attempt to block out any further noise that Pippin might make.
Pippin continued to sit up in the large bed. He just didn’t see how Merry could sleep. Yule was in two days! He realized that his cousin was older, but still, Merry would be getting gifts too. Didn’t Merry wonder what he might be getting? Wasn't he the least bit interested? Pippin supposed that once you were the grown up age of fifteen, Yule wasn’t as exciting. Still, how could Merry sleep at a time like this?
“Merry? Are you asleep yet Merry? If you’re not, then I thought maybe we could go scout around for our presents.” Pippin whispered this idea hopefully.
“How can I be asleep with you in the room?” Merry groaned. "However, that is a splendid idea, Pip! Why don’t *you* go scout around for the presents? Then, you can come back and tell me what you've found,” Merry yawned.
“By myself?” Pippin squeaked. “Just me alone?”
“Why not? You are the one that wants to go and it’s not like you’d get lost or anything. You’ve been here hundreds of times so you know your way around,” Merry mumbled and put the pillow over his head.
“I guess I could do that. It won’t be as much fun if you don’t go, but I guess I could do that.” Pippin seemed to be trying to convince himself. The seven-year-old didn’t like the dark very much and Brandy Hall would be mostly dark at this time of night. Also, sneaking around on his own really wouldn’t be as much fun. “Are you sure you won’t be sorry later that you didn’t come along?”
“I’m certain,” Merry mumbled and pulled the pillow tighter around his ears.
Pippin stood up on the bed, walked over to the edge and jumped softly to the floor. “Well, if you’re certain?”
“Fine then. I will go and even though you aren’t going, if I find any of your gifts, I will try to see what they are. All right, Merry?” Pippin whispered a bit too loudly as he started toward the door.
“Mmmphf,” Merry answered.
Pippin took a deep breath and let himself out of the room. Once out in the dark hallway, the small hobbit child began to have second thoughts. It was very dark and this was a very long hall. Maybe I should just go back in and crawl into bed with Merry. It's only two more days until Yule. I can wait that long. Pippin thought as he reached for the door handle. 'No. You are seven years old and you are not afraid of the dark. Well, you shouldn’t be afraid of the dark. So there. You are going to find your Yule gifts and Merry Yule gifts too. That will surprise him,' Pippin told himself as he put one hand on the wall to guide himself along in the dark and set out to find his gifts.
He thought the best place to begin his search was in the cellar. The Brandybucks kept lots of things in the cellar. One time, he and Merry had found the gifts that Uncle Saradoc was going to give everyone on his birthday. That had been excellent! Well, it had been excellent until Aunt Esme had found them peeking into the packages and had taken them to Uncle Saradoc’s study to ‘explain themselves’. Explaining these things was never easy and in the end, even if you explained it all perfectly well, grown-ups were still angry. He wished that Merry were coming with him. He didn’t like the cellar when he was alone. Maybe he should look for his presents some place else like the kitchen!
There wasn’t too much chance that his presents were in the kitchen, but well, if they were in the kitchen then it was much better than that old cellar. He’d look in the kitchen and if he didn’t find them then he’d look in the cellar. That made sense. Good thinking, Pippin. Besides, he was a bit hungry. He’d get something to eat while he was looking for his gifts. There should be some of that pudding left from dinner. Well, maybe there should be. He and Merry had eaten an awful lot of it.
Pippin was thinking about the pudding when he noticed a light gleaming near the cellar door at the far end of the hall. Well, now that was interesting. Hey, maybe it was Merry looking for him. Of course! Merry would go right to the cellar because Merry wouldn’t be afraid. “Merry? Is that you?” Pippin whispered as he made his way to the cellar door. There was no answer. “Merry? Are you trying to scare me? I’m not a baby, Merry and I’m not scared so if it’s you just say so,” Pippin whispered nervously. He inched his way to the cellar door. Taking a deep breath, he poked his head inside and looked around. He couldn’t see anyone, but there was some light coming from down the cellar stairs. It had to be Merry because everyone else would be asleep.
Pippin began to ease quietly down the stairs in the direction of the light. He was less scared than he would have been if there had been no light. Besides, he was certain that someone was down here and that someone was Merry. When he reached the bottom of the stairs, looked around, but still saw no one. There was a lantern on the floor by some boxes in the far corner but no Merry.
Boxes! This might be it! This had to be it! Someone had been hiding gifts and had forgot their lantern. In his excitement, Pippin forgot all about being quiet. He hurried over to the pile of boxes. These didn’t seem to be the sort of boxes into which folks would normally put Yule gifts. This was a really big bunch of boxes and they seemed kind of old and heavy looking. They were very dusty as if no one had bothered about them in a while. That was odd, but still, they would be the perfect for hiding place for Yule gifts for small hobbits because no one would expect it!
Pippin slid the lantern out of the way and off to the side a bit. He didn’t want to knock it over and wind up in the dark down here. If one of the boxes fell, he didn’t want it to fall on top of the lantern. You don’t want to set your Yule gifts on fire, Pippin. Be very careful. He stood up onto his toes stretching as far as he could in order to get a better look at what might be inside the boxes but this wasn’t any help at all. When this didn’t get him a better view, he began to jump up and down. This didn’t work either and he was quite certain that it was making too much noise. He had to find something to climb on top of and then he could see into the boxes. Pippin frowned and glanced around the cellar. What could he use?
There was a knocking sound. Merry moaned. Why was there a knocking sound? What was Pippin doing now? Hadn’t Merry sent him off on a wild goose chase? Was he back already? Merry pulled the pillow over his ears again and mumbled, “Go away.”
“Merry, this is important. Get up you lazy oaf.” It was Frodo’s voice. Was everyone up? What time was it?
“Go away, Frodo. I just went to sleep a few minutes ago,” Merry moaned and rolled over on his back.
Frodo sat down on the bed and smiled. “Get up, Merry. I’ve found something.”
“Don’t tell me that you are rummaging about the Hall looking for your Yule gifts at your age!” Merry said in disbelief. He sat up and glared at Frodo.
“My Yule gifts?” Frodo looked confused. “I’m not looking for my gifts and you shouldn’t be either, Merry Brandybuck.” Frodo’s voice had turned stern.
“Do I look as if I am hunting for my Yule gifts? I seem to be the only hobbit in this entire smial that is trying to get some sleep!” Merry said, exasperated. “What are you doing you silly Baggins?”
“Very well. Suit yourself. I just won’t show you what I’ve found,” Frodo said turning his back on his cousin and sitting on the bed facing the hall door.
Merry rolled over and got out of bed. If Frodo had found something then it would most certainly be worth knowing about. He supposed that he could sleep later. “What is it?”
“I thought you were going to sleep,” Frodo smiled.
“Frodo! You are worse than Pippin!”
Frodo laughed. “Where is Pippin anyway?”
“How should I know? He said he was going to scout around the hall for his Yule gifts. I don’t figure he’s gone too far. He's probably raiding the kitchen,” Merry grinned. “Now, what have you found?”
“Come see,” Frodo smiled and he and Merry went out into the hall.
The chair was old but it would hold one skinny seven year old. Pippin pushed it over to the pile of boxes and climbed onto it carefully. He was up on his toes again looking into a very large wooden box when all of the sudden the entire pile of boxes began to shift. Pippin realized at this moment that he had maybe pulled too hard on the lip of the box and now things were tottering. Pippin tried to reverse the effect by pushing his back against the box. If he pushed it in the other direction then it might not fall. It might just level out.
The box was moving back! Good job, Pippin! You did it! Oops! You did it all right! Now he and the box were falling in the other direction. Pippin waved his arms wildly and tried to regain his balance but it was hopeless. He and the boxes were tumbling out of control to the floor. His feet were no longer on the rickety old chair.”Eeeeek!” Pippin yelled as the entire stack fell to the floor along with him.
There was stuff everywhere! And what a load of stuff it was! Old Yule decorations! Pretty colored glass balls and sparkling metal balls on ribbons and lots of festive stuff on little bits of string. It was pretty even if some of it had broken when it hit the floor. Miraculously, Pippin seemed to have landed in the middle of it all with no noticeable injury. How did that happen? Pippin tried to stand and found that he couldn’t. He wasn’t hurt but he was tangled up in something. What was this? The little hobbit squirmed about trying to get free of whatever it was that was holding him in place but with no success. It seemed the more he struggled, the more tangled up he became.
“What was that?” Merry frowned as he and Frodo shut the door to his room and emerged out in the hall. There had been some sort of a crash. Not a very loud one. It was kind of muffled, but still something rather heavy had fallen.
“I don’t know.” Frodo whispered. “Oh, no! The cellar!” Frodo croaked taking off in the direction of the open cellar door with Merry at his heels.
“Someone must be down there. I can see a light!” Merry announced as they neared the door.
“I was down there eirlier. That’s my light. I left the lantern when I decided to come and get you.” Frodo answered over his shoulder. The two of them reached the stairs and started down.
“Get this off me! Help! Somebody get me out of this!” Frodo and Merry stopped on the stairs and exchanged long-suffering looks. The voice was most definitely Pippin’s and the child sounded a bit scared.
“Now what?” Merry hissed.
“I am afraid I may know what.” Frodo sighed as he and Merry clamored down the stairs and into the cellar. The sight that met their eyes caused both of them to double over with laughter.
“It isn’t funny! Get this off me! I’m stuck!” Pippin wailed.
Frodo and Merry were trying to compose themselves but it was nearly impossible. This was just too funny. Pippin was sitting on the dusty cellar floor amid hundreds of colored Yule decorations. Some of them were still rolling about and others had come to rest in small piles. Some of them were, unfortunately, broken, but not so many as you might think considering that all of the wooden boxes were scattered about. Pippin was sitting all trussed up in the middle of the mess. Somehow, he had managed to get himself tangled in a long, sparkling, strand of tinsel. The small seven year old was unable to move his arms as the tinsel was wrapped tightly about him from neck to waist. One foot was stuck in the broken seat of an old chair and the other foot was tangled in an old string of dried cranberries. To make matters even more amusing, there were tiny bits of sparkling coloured paper all over the child. Merry and Frodo were laughing so hard that they had tears streaming down their faces.
“Help! It’s not funny! Get this stuff off me!” Pippin shrieked. “It fell on me! Merry, please! Frodo? Don't laugh at me!”
Merry bit his lower lip and strained to gain control. "Did you find your Yule presents, Pip Squeak?”
“No! Just all this old junk. Please help me. Frodo?” Pippin was becoming desperate.
“We should leave you here, you little scamp,” Frodo said trying to sound stern. “You know you aren’t suppose to go looking for your Yule gifts.”
“But Merry said I could!” Pippin objected. “You did say that! Tell Frodo that you did, Merry!”
Merry laughed. “I might have said something like that but I was desperate for a bit of sleep at the time.”
Pippin wiggled helpless. “Please get me out of this. I’ll be good. I promise I will.”
A voice from the top of the cellar stairs growled. “I don’t know who is down there but I could venture a guess.”
Pippin got very still and Merry and Frodo exchanged nervous looks. The voice belonged to Merry's father, Saradoc Brandybuck.
“I am going back to my warm, comfortable bed and I had better not wake up to a mess in the morning,” Saradoc said firmly. “Do you understand me?”
“Yes sir,” Pippin chirped. Merry and Frodo giggled madly.
“Now whoever you are, I want you to clean up whatever sort of mess that you've made and then I want you to go to bed or I will throw all of your Yule presents in the Brandywine!”
Merry and Frodo smirked but Pippin looked worried. “He won’t will he?”
Merry grinned and knelt down next to his little cousin. “You didn’t believe me when I threatened to do that. Why do you believe him?”
“Cause he probably knows where my Yule presents are,” Pippin sniffled looking worried. “Are you going to help me with this? Cause if you don’t then I won’t get anything for Yule and I won’t ever get out of this old decoration stuff.”
“Relax, Pip. We’ll get you out,” Merry grinned and he and Frodo began unwinding the tinsel from their squirming little cousin. As they worked, Merry grinned mischievously at Frodo and said, “So Frodo, are you going to tell me what *you* found in the cellar?”
“It seems a bit pointless now, Meriadoc, but if you must know, I found a great many wooden boxes in the cellar and all of them were filled with lovely Yule decorations,” Frodo said, sarcastically, as he helped Merry untie Pippin.
“Well, be careful with them, Frodo. If they are anything at all like these ones, then they could fall on you and you could get all hung up in them,” Pippin warned quite seriously.
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